Living with Children: Adopted son wants to live with biological mother

Q: Our 14-year-old son, who was adopted by open adoption, now wants to go live with his biological mother. She was completely out of the picture until a couple of years ago when she suddenly showed up, telling us that she'd completely changed her life and wanted to re-establish contact with "her" son. At first, it was just phone calls. Then she asked for daytime visits, then overnights. Then he wanted to go on vacation with her last summer. In the meantime, he's become more and more difficult to live with - moody and disrespectful, mostly, and his grades have taken a nose dive. He's told us he doesn't want to live with us anymore. I think he believes there will be no rules with her and he'll be able to eat ice cream all day long, figuratively speaking. What should we do?


Ask Mr. Dad: Funny, you don't look like you're pregnant, Dad.

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife is about four months pregnant and I'm really excited about becoming a new dad. The problem is that I've recently put on some weight (which is really weird, since I weigh exactly what I did in high school). I've also been having nosebleeds and I'm vomiting a lot (which is also weird, since I almost never do either one). I'm too embarrassed to talk to my wife about this and I'm certainly not going to ask my doctor. But I thought you might be able to help me figure out what's going on. Got any ideas about why this is happening?


Ex-etiquette: A personal ex-etiquette experience

So that you, my readers, understand that I also face ex-etiquette dilemmas, here's an ex-etiquette issue I recently had to deal with myself. My daughter's father and I have been divorced for years but our daughter recently asked us both to travel from California to New York City to help her get settled in the next stage of her life. She confessed she was a little afraid to make the move alone and wanted both her parents there for moral support. Her dad and I get along fine so we agreed, but traveling with an ex presents interesting problems.


Movie review: 'Speed Sisters,' documentary follows first Middle Eastern female racing team

Parents need to know that "Speed Sisters" is a documentary about the first all-female car racing team in the Middle East. It follows the four racers and their coach as they compete in races while trying to navigate life in occupied Palestine. The dangers of living in such a highly militarized zone are clear: scenes show armed soldiers and explosions at military checkpoints, and there are mentions of air strikes and the use of tear gas (one woman says that the smell of tear gas reminds her of walking to school as a child). In one intense scene, a racer is shot at and hit by a tear gas canister. She becomes visibly upset and sustains a serious bruise. Most of the movie is in Arabic with English subtitles, although a few of the young women speak English. Swearing is infrequent, but "crap" and "ass" are said in English, while "bastard" and other insults show up in the subtitles. The women are excellent examples of the power of persevering and persisting even when being treated unjustly.


Moms Gear: Single-serve-blender makes it easy to serve up smoothies and drinks

Moms wanting to incorporate more fresh fruits and veggies into their family's diet can easily do so with the Hamilton Beach Single Serve Blender. Available for $16.99 through, the blender, which has a stainless steel blade, can crush up ice but also tough greens, like arugula and wheatgrass, too. Just be sure to add enough water to the blend if attempting a green smoothie.


Balancing Act: Paper dolls that you can 'dress like women?' Yes, please.

My favorite response to the report that President Trump wants his female employees to "dress like women" was that photo collage, shared all over social media, of famous women in their women's wear - Mae Jemison wearing her astronaut uniform, Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her Supreme Court justice robe, Malala Yousafzai in a head scarf and so on.


Why I'm letting my daughter watch the Oscars red carpet ceremony this year

As kids get older, it's harder to control what media they're exposed to. When my daughter was young, I could shield her from any red carpet hoopla during the Oscars and all the sexist messages it sends: rating women on their looks, glorifying luxury goods, and the fact that men slip by all the prying questions. Now it's becoming more difficult as she scans her Instagram feed for celebrity pics, and her friends are more up to date on pop culture events.


Social Security: Social Security celebrates Black History Month

Throughout the month of February, we honor African Americans by celebrating Black History Month. Created in 1926, this event coincides with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and Frederick Douglass on February 14. African American communities have celebrated these birthdays together for over a century.


What you need to know about potty training

Toddlers are typically ready to learn to use the toilet between 2 and 4 years of age. Just like crawling, walking or sleeping through the night, potty training is a learned skill that can't be taught in one day. Rather than focusing on a specific age, you should begin potty training when your child shows multiple signs that they're ready.


App review: 1600, an augmented reality tour of the White House

Parents need to know that 1600 transforms a real dollar bill into the White House and its grounds in the app through augmented reality technology (AR). Center the app's screen on the face of a dollar bill and watch the images on the bill transform into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Tour the animated scene (among many others) and watch images such as the presidential helicopter land on the grass as Secret Service agents stand guard on the roof. Parents may need to help younger kids with 1600 because it's not easy to consistently tilt your device just right to continue the tour. When it hits a glitch, the app returns to the beginning, which can be frustrating. Read the White House privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.


Game review: 'Mission US: Flight to Freedom,' powerful sim portrays life of a teen slave

Parents need to know that "Mission US: Flight to Freedom" is an age-appropriate but realistic simulation of life for Lucy, an African-American teenage girl living in the pre-Civil War period, as she attempts to flee from slavery to freedom. This game is intended to be used as part of an integrated curriculum on slavery (resources are provided on the publisher's website), not necessarily as a stand-alone experience. Kids who play will get a sense of what it's like to be ordered around by a master, leave family behind to run for freedom, and have to make difficult decisions. Some choices will result in Lucy being captured, and the simulation will end. Given the subject matter, kids might find the experience to be emotionally intense; families are torn apart, people are treated poorly, and characters are unfairly imprisoned. The use of words such as "Negro" could feel offensive to some, although they're authentic to the time period. Most decisions have no right or wrong answer, which may be a new experience for kids. There are repercussions for each decision and, much like in real-life, you can't always know which will end poorly. Some choices result in "badges," which aren't rewards so much as representations of personality traits within the experience. As the game progresses, these personality traits come into play and help shape Lucy's life.


Turlock's Almond Tree Restaurant goes up in flames

Turlock Fire Department firefighters battle flames at the Almond Tree Restaurant on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2107. (Joe Cortez/
Turlock's Almond Tree Restaurant goes up in flames 0:50

Turlock's Almond Tree Restaurant goes up in flames

Merced firefighters train for water rescues 0:25

Merced firefighters train for water rescues

River Oaks Golf Course under water 0:27

River Oaks Golf Course under water

CHP holds traffic at Donner Summit on Interstate 80 as harsh weather tightens grip on travel 5:52

CHP holds traffic at Donner Summit on Interstate 80 as harsh weather tightens grip on travel